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THE NATION

GOP Strategy for '02 Now in Rivals' Camp

June 15, 2002|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The White House tried to shrug off questions Friday about a computer disk found on a Washington street by a Senate Democratic aide that outlines Republican political strategies and vulnerabilities for the 2002 elections.

The disk contains presentations by White House Political Director Ken Mehlman and senior political advisor Karl Rove urging Republican candidates to stress the war on terrorism and the economy.

Mehlman said Democrats had a "strong chance" to pick up Senate seats in New Hampshire and Arkansas, but he listed five Democratic seats with a "strong chance" to go Republican: South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Georgia. Republican Sens. Bob Smith of New Hampshire and Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas have long been considered vulnerable.

Democrats reacted with glee over the discovery of the disk, apparently lost after a presentation by the two aides at a hotel near the White House and circulated soon afterward. Democrats questioned if the political strategies were put together on public property.

"Isn't that what the Republican National Committee is for?" one Democratic strategist asked, recalling constant Republican criticism and questions about the political activities of the Clinton team.

"I am shocked, shocked that the director of the White House office of political affairs would be concerned in any way with political affairs," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters.

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